Walmart on Monday revealed it will be trialing one hour autonomous drone deliveries in 2021.
The retail giant said it had established a partnership with Zipline, a medical supply drone delivery company.
Walmart will now experiment with sending out medical, health and wellness products in a pilot programme in Northwest Arkansas in early 2021, next to Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville.
Zipline’s launch and release system allows for on-demand delivery in less than an hour, covering a 50 mile radius.
The drones can carry up to four pounds of cargo and fly up to 80 mph.
Once the trial has launched, customers will be able to order items online or through the Walmart app.
A nearby store will fill a Zipline delivery box with the products, which attaches to the drone.
The order then flies a preprogrammed route to the customer’s door where the box parachutes down. The drone returns back to a hub or base.
Zipline said it delivered more than 200,000 critical medical products to health facilities in multiple countries.
The partnership with Walmart is the first step toward potential national-scale operations across the US, although it is not Walmart’s first in-road to drone delivery.
In October last year Walmart filed two separate drone delivery patents as it looked to push ahead of both Amazon and Google’s current drone programmes.
The patents looked specifically at how to drop packages from a drone to their desired location without having to drop them on the ground.